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A ritual association of the eastern Temne, where in particular it is involved in the ceremonies surrounding the installation/crowning of the paramount chief. It has other roles, including that of ritual purification following pollution and protection against hostile spiritual forces. The earliest description of the association is in manuscript by a Jesuit missionary in Sierra Leone in the first decade of the 17th century. In the 17th century, as today, it is associated with the wearing of masks. The masks commonly described as RaGbenle masks today are a-rong a-thoma, a wooden polychrome mask with flaring nostrils; namankera, a wooden polychrome (black and white) mask with a round tube-like snout; and butu, a mask similar to namankera but with a shorter tube-like snout.

  • N.W.Thomas, Anthropological Report on Sierra Leone (London 1916), 146-149.
  • V.R.Dorjahn, 'The organisation and functions of the Ragbenle Society of the Temne', Africa, 1959, XXIX, 2, 156-170.